I was able to get out by myself on Saturday for a hike and chose to go to Galehead and the Twins. I hadn’t been to those peaks in a few years, and wanted to explore some new trails and refresh my memory on some of the other trails for a trip later this summer. I also wanted to go somewhere not too busy but had views, as we had beautiful weather which is extremely attractive to hikers of all kinds.
The first part of my hike was a trek up the Gale River Trail to connect with the Garfield Ridge Trail, and then to Galehead Hut. I had never hiked the Gale River Trail, so it was fun to get to hike something new. While it is 4 miles just to the Garfield Ridge Trail, the Gale River Trail was relatively easy warmup in the first 2 to 3 miles and then became moderate for the last mile or so up to the junction. The trail does have a nice relocation away from the river and some potentially difficult crossings. The relocation is well marked, and the old trail is fill with brush to discourage use. The relocation has nice soft footing, too, which is much nicer than an eroded logging road filled with rocks.
Because I was hiking solo, I was able to hike at my own pace and made good time up the trail and took a left on the Garfield Ridge Trail. To be honest, I didn’t remember all of this section of trail, just parts of it. In my defense, it was at the end of a 17 mile day, so I’m pretty sure my brain did not register all the details properly the first time. It was much easier than I remembered, so that was good, and right at about 2 hours from leaving the car, I arrived at Galehead Hut for a break and water refill.
After chatting with a few late departing hut guests, who I would end up seeing later in the day, I headed up to Galehead’s summit. This part of the hike wasn’t nearly as long or hard as I remembered, either.
It was a quick round trip up to the outlook, the summit and then back to the hut. I then started the long climb up South Twin. It wasn’t actually all that long at .8 of a mile, but it was steep and relentless. It was mostly on rocks, which thankfully get a bit smaller as the ascent progresses. That said, the elevation gain is 1200 feet, so steady progress and careful pacing is the order of the day. This climb took me less time than the last time, too, and soon I was standing on the summit of South Twin. The views from South Twin on a good day are spectacular and today was a good day. There was ridge after ridge of mountains to see all around, and it was fun to pick out places I had been on different hikes.
After a break, snack, and another chat with one of the gentlemen from the hut it was time to try out another new trail, the North Twin Spur. I have hike North Twin via the North Twin Trail, but had not hike to it from South Twin before.
From the summit of South Twin, it was easy to see North Twin and the approximate path of the trail, so off I went to check out the trail. The trail starts off with an easy descent, leads through a col, passes through an area with a look up to a rocky section and then winds up and around that section to begin the ascent of North Twin. It was somewhere in the col, that I met up again with the other gentlemen from the hut, hiking with a gentleman I had met at Zealand Hut back in March. Funny how you run into people on the trail who you’ve met before on the trail! The hike up was quick and soon enough, the summit and side trail to the outlook ledges came into view.
The views from North Twin didn’t disappoint, either. The perspective was a little different, but it was interesting to look back at South Twin, Galehead Hut, Galehead and beyond to Garfield and the Franconias.
The trip back to South Twin was quick, as I tagged along with a group out for a multi-day backpacking trip. At this point, I was on the return portion of my hike, and starting the descent back to the hut to see if I could purchase some soup for a late lunch before heading back down to the car. As I was hiking down, I happened to see some AT thru-hikers and stopped for a chat. I ended up discovering that one of them was Nor’easter, whose journal I’ve been following on trailjournals.com. (I find it interesting to read what thru-hikers think of the Whites, since this is where I hike all the time!) It was very cool to meet him, and he seemed to be really enjoying the great weather and spectacular views here in the Whites.
With the quick descent down to the hut behind me, I enjoyed a bowl of vegetable curry soup and a brownie, filled my water one more time, and headed down the trail. I enjoyed the rest of my hike being thankful not only for the afternoon sunshine, the river, the woods, but also for the interesting people I met along the trail.